Green v. green case settles
The bat lovers are happy. So is the company building a West Virginia wind farm.
The two sides recently clashed in federal court over the construction of the project on an Appalachian ridge in Greenbriar County.
The company, Chicago-based Invenergy, said the farm would provide much-needed clean energy. But advocates for the endangered Indiana bat tried to stop the project, arguing that the creatures would be killed by the massive turbines.
Now the parties have signed off on an agreement they say will allow the farm to operate, and protect the bats.
The brownish-gray bats, which weigh about as much as three pennies, hibernate in limestone caves within miles of the wind farm. They've been listed as endangered since 1967.
Under the agreement, signed by U.S. District Judge Roger W. Titus, the company must seek a special permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. While that happens, it can begin operating as many as 67 turbines. The windmills, though, can run only during daylight hours, when the bats aren’t out and about. When the bats are hibernating in winter months, they can run 24-hours a day.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service can change those restrictions after examining the threat to the bats. But the court agreement sets a maximum of 100 turbines that can be built.
"It’s a win-win," said Joseph Condo, Invenergy vice president and general counsel. "We’re able to move ahead on our project and provide clean energy. We want to be good neighbors."
D.J. Schubert of the Animal Welfare Institute also thinks it's a good resolution.
"We’re not against green energy, who would be?" Schubert said. "But we think the industry does have to live by the laws of the land, and that includes protecting endangered species."
Condo said the first turbines should be up and running within two or three months.
Photo credit: By Andy King/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
January 29, 2010; 12:11 PM ET
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